Sounds like … a younger Donnie McClurkin or Marvin Sapp, plus the worshipful spirit of Israel Houghton and Stephen Hurd.

At a glance … third time's a charm for Micah Stampley with Ransomed, easily his most cohesive and complete album to date.

For all the self-proclaimed royalty going around in the realm of contemporary gospel, Micah Stampley could very well make history as the genre's first-ever actual prince. Earlier this year, he and his wife Heidi were crowned prince and princess of the Se Kingdom of Ghana when King Adamtey I, with no regal offspring of his own, chose them to carry his legacy.

Definitely an interesting factoid, but the coronation has very little to do with Ransomed, Stampley's third album. But if the songs, passion, and worship of the disc are any indication, this rising star in gospel wears his crown proudly. His first two recordings, The Songbook of Micah and A Fresh Wind, positioned him as a promising musical force, a vocalist with a pulse for praise and ministering to the saints. However, Stampley was still finding his voice with those albums.

Not so with Ransomed. The live album finds Stampley undoing previous bad habits— namely, a propensity for grandstanding that sometimes stood in the way of the songs. This time around, he lets the melodies and the spirit of worship speak for themselves, so much that he often goes from soloist to songleader, fading into the background and letting his choir lead the congregation in one shining moment of praise after another.

From start to finish, Stampley and his right-hand man, mega-producer Kevin Bond, fashion a second-to-none atmosphere of adoration, one where the crux is seldom the guests, the choristers, or the musicians, but rather the substance of the songs, offering a full range of encouragement, scriptural reminders, calls to worship, musical prayers, and exhortative pieces.

This completeness elevates Ransomed beyond your typical church record; to call it that would be reductionist at best. Instead, Ransomed is best described as an entire liturgy set to music—a work that goes beyond the usual motions of contemporary gospel to become one of the best albums the genre has seen in 2008. If Stampley keeps this pace, he might soon dethrone other established dignitaries in gospel music royalty.

Our Rating
4½ Stars - Excellent
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Release Date
November 4, 2008
Music World Gospel
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